Parks and Rec, senior center could be good fit

Medford's Senior Center has trudged along quietly for years, drawing little attention. Now, it appears the venerable institution is at a crossroads, and the direction it chooses may determine its future success — or failure.

Budget problems that surfaced this past summer led to a staff shakeup, with the executive director and the office manager resigning. The board is now exploring options for what comes next.

The center, in operation for half a century, provides activities and a daily lunch on weekdays at 510 E. Main St. It has 585 members, about half the number 10 years ago.

The board has applied for grants, and board members are discussing the possibility of partnering with the Medford Parks and Recreation Department. Interim Parks Director Rich Rosenthal said his department would be open to that discussion.

It's common for senior centers in other communities to be operated by the parks and recreation department, as is the case in Ashland. The nature of the senior center lends itself to management by a city department focused on leisure activities and recreation for all ages.

A partnership would benefit both the center and the city department, in our view. The parks department's most visible programs focus on children and younger adults, but seniors are a large portion of the city's population, and benefit from leisure activities as much as other groups. They could benefit even more if the city parks department tapped its expertise and existing programs to create a vibrant, and well-publicized, senior center.

Medford is a destination for retirees, and a vibrant center is an important service to that segment of the population.

The budget would be a concern, but if the center continued its fundraising activities while relying on the city's management staff and expertise, it could be a successful partnership.

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